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Badminton

India Open: Priyanshu Rajawat tastes biggest victory after long injury layoff

Priyanshu recovered from an opening game deficit to pull off a shocking victory against Lakshya, in a three-gamer that lasted for 75 minutes.

Priyanshu Rajawat Badminton
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Priyanshu Rajawat defeats World No. 4 Anders Antonsen to advance to the semi-finals. (Photo credit: SAI)

By

Deepanshu Jain

Updated: 17 Jan 2024 5:24 AM GMT

New Delhi: The Country's premier badminton tournament India Open Super 750 got off to a rollicking start at the KD Jadhav Indoor Hall here on Tuesday.

The match that stood out the most on the opening day of the competition was the one between senior player Lakshya Sen and emerging star Priyanshu Rajawat.

Priyanshu recovered from an opening game deficit to pull off a shocking victory against Lakshya, considered one of India's most talented shuttlers, in a three-game match that lasted for 75 minutes.

This was, meanwhile, the first victory for Priyanshu against Lakshya in their second meeting, the last time they played was in the Japan Open last year where Lakshya overcame a 14-18 deficit in the third game to emerge victorious.

However, in New Delhi, it was the other way around because Priyanshu held her nerves and won against Lakshya in a beautifully poised match.

Priyanshu said it was an important win for him as he made a comeback to the court after a long injury layoff.

"This win was very important for me as I am making a comeback to the BWF World Tour after an injury layoff and I was up against one of my friends in the first round. I always love to play matches against Lakshya, this was our second meeting. The last time also I was leading with four points in the final game but still lost narrowly 22-24," Priyanshu said at the mixed zone.

In the first game today, both players started very aggressively, deploying their attacking shots effectively. The match was going neck-on-neck as points were not coming easily. At the mid-game interval, just one point separated Lakshya and Priyanshu.

Post-break, Priyanshu looked a little rusty as he lost focus and committed a few unforced errors.

But it did not take him much time to regain his focus. Lakshya, however, was up for the challenge, negotiating the challenges posed by Priyanshu swiftly.

Due to his solid defence, Lakshya won the first game 21-16.

In the second game, Priyanshu looked completely different as he took a massive lead of 11-4 before the interval which Lakshya tried to reduce with his smashes but could not cover the court well. Eventually, Priyanshu won the game 21-16, drawing level in the match.

In the deciding third game, Priyanshu cruised to gain a 9-1 lead. At this point, Priyanshu got a little carried away by his overwhelming lead against the star player. He rushed for points in a bid to finish the game as early as possible but ended up giving away soft points to Lakshya.

Priyanshu, however, would soon amend his performance by playing long rallies to manipulate the pace of the game.

As he cut down the pace, Lakshya started committing mistakes under pressure and eventually conceded the game 13-21.

This win took Priyanshu to the second round of a major tournament after a long time. He will face HS Prannoy in the Round of 16 on Thursday in another all-Indian clash.

"This is my best win after a long time, and it is even better as it comes before the home crowd who was cheering very loudly for both of us," added Priyanshu.

"I skipped many tournaments in December because of my back injury which continuously hampered my game. There was a swelling at my back which wasn't getting better even after many treatments but somehow I managed to cope with that by using meditation as one of my remedies and now I am back to full fitness finally," said Priyanshu.

After the match, Lakshya also hailed Priyanshu.

"Priyanshu played a solid game, he hasn't given me any chances, there were many unforced errors from my side as well but in the the last game, it was a very big lead which was tough to recover," said Lakshya.

Coach Pullela Gopichand, meanwhile, has words of pieces of advice for the youngster.

"Priyanshu was fast and also has a good variety of quality shots as we saw today which was a very good performance but still he has a lot to learn. He has had many good wins in the past as well but he needs to be a little more consistent, but the game style he has it is very difficult to be consistent. If he still manages his consistency he can stay among top players for a very long time" said coach Gopichand.

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